Ethiopia Smartphone Shipments up 10% YoY in Q1 2021; Opening up of Telecom Sector Offers Huge Opportunity

London, Hong Kong, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – June 27, 2021

Ethiopia’s smartphone shipments increased 9.8% in Q1 2021, according to the latest Market Monitor report from Counterpoint Research. This growth was driven by an increase in the mobile phone network penetration and increase in the number of first-time users due to the pandemic-triggered surge in work and study from home.

TECNO retained its #1 spot in the market in Q1 2021 registering a growth of 27% YoY. Samsung also retained its #2 spot registering a growth of 31% YoY driven by affordable A-series smartphones like the Galaxy A02 and Galaxy A12. Samsung’s shipments during the quarter were the highest ever in the last three years. The share of the top four OEMs (TECNO, Samsung, itel and Infinix) stood at 89%, the highest ever for any quarter.

The #3 spot went to itel, whose shipments grew 53% YoY. The OEM also saw a significant market share gain by climbing to 19% from 14% in Q1 2020 on a strong performance of its low-end models. Transsion Group accounted for more than 61% of the Ethiopian smartphone market shipments, compared to 54% in Q1 2020. The Others category saw a decrease in share in Q1 2021, mainly due to the impact of global chipset shortages.

Exhibit 1: Ethiopia Smartphone Shipment Market Share, Q1 2021

Counterpoint Research Ethiopia Smartphone Shipment Market Share (Q1 2020 vs. Q1 2021)
Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor

Rising political and economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 continued to skew the consumer buying pattern toward more affordable but feature-rich smartphones. 4G smartphone shipments grew 44% YoY, whereas 2G and 3G phones continued to decline at 18% YoY and 35% YoY respectively. Feature phones continued to dominate the handset market with a 62% share. However, this was their lowest ever share in Ethiopia.

Commenting on the market dynamics, Research Analyst Aman Chaudhary said- “Africa’s second most populous nation with over 110 million people, Ethiopia is among the countries having one of the lowest mobile penetration in the world. This is due to its large rural population and strong government control on the telecom market. The monopolistic control has discouraged innovation, restricted network expansion and limited the scope of telecommunication services”.

Chaudhary added, “However, in June 2019, the government decided to open the market to private competition and to the much-needed foreign investment in the sector. The process to partially privatize government-owned Ethio Telecom advanced in June 2021 with the launch of the tender process to offload a 40% stake in the company. Ethiopia has also decided to allocate two licences to private operators to offer competition to Ethio Telecom. In May 2021, the government handed out the first private operator license to a consortium led by the UK’s Vodafone, Kenya’s Safaricom and Japan’s Sumitomo. The consortium is expected to invest over $8 billion over 10 years, making it the single largest FDI in Ethiopia till date. For the second license, South Africa’s MTN is expected to bid again if mobile financial services are included, apart from data and digital services.

The government has also announced the rollout of a long overdue mobile phone-based financial service, called Tele Birr. Already available to Ethio Telecom users, the service covers remittance, bill payment and online banking. Mobile-based financial services are among the top use cases for both smartphone and feature phone consumers. This should prompt global players such as Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo to enter the market with their lower and mid-segment offerings. Their understanding of the offline channels in the MEA market, brand recognition in this region offers a significant opportunity that has the potential of enabling these OEMs to gain significant market share in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is among the world’s fastest-growing economies. It has a large young population that is poised to benefit from the telecom sector liberalisation and the entrance of foreign private players who will grow the network and offer competitive tariffs. This in turn, will exponentially grow the demand and subsequent penetration of the smartphone market.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.


Aman Chaudhary

Follow Counterpoint Research

Related Posts

Counterpoint research is a young and fast growing research firm covering analysis of the tech industry. Coverage areas are connected devices, digital consumer goods, software & applications and other adjacent topics. We provide syndicated research reports as well as tailored. Our seminars and workshops for companies and institutions are popular and available on demand. Consulting and customized work on the above topics is provided for high precision projects.

Term of Use and Privacy Policy

Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited


In order to access Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited (Company or We hereafter) Web sites, you may be asked to complete a registration form. You are required to provide contact information which is used to enhance the user experience and determine whether you are a paid subscriber or not.
Personal Information When you register on we ask you for personal information. We use this information to provide you with the best advice and highest-quality service as well as with offers that we think are relevant to you. We may also contact you regarding a Web site problem or other customer service-related issues. We do not sell, share or rent personal information about you collected on Company Web sites.

How to unsubscribe and Termination

You may request to terminate your account or unsubscribe to any email subscriptions or mailing lists at any time. In accessing and using this Website, User agrees to comply with all applicable laws and agrees not to take any action that would compromise the security or viability of this Website. The Company may terminate User’s access to this Website at any time for any reason. The terms hereunder regarding Accuracy of Information and Third Party Rights shall survive termination.

Website Content and Copyright

This Website is the property of Counterpoint and is protected by international copyright law and conventions. We grant users the right to access and use the Website, so long as such use is for internal information purposes, and User does not alter, copy, disseminate, redistribute or republish any content or feature of this Website. User acknowledges that access to and use of this Website is subject to these TERMS OF USE and any expanded access or use must be approved in writing by the Company.
– Passwords are for user’s individual use
– Passwords may not be shared with others
– Users may not store documents in shared folders.
– Users may not redistribute documents to non-users unless otherwise stated in their contract terms.

Changes or Updates to the Website

The Company reserves the right to change, update or discontinue any aspect of this Website at any time without notice. Your continued use of the Website after any such change constitutes your agreement to these TERMS OF USE, as modified.
Accuracy of Information: While the information contained on this Website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, We disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. User assumes sole responsibility for the use it makes of this Website to achieve his/her intended results.

Third Party Links: This Website may contain links to other third party websites, which are provided as additional resources for the convenience of Users. We do not endorse, sponsor or accept any responsibility for these third party websites, User agrees to direct any concerns relating to these third party websites to the relevant website administrator.

Cookies and Tracking

We may monitor how you use our Web sites. It is used solely for purposes of enabling us to provide you with a personalized Web site experience.
This data may also be used in the aggregate, to identify appropriate product offerings and subscription plans.
Cookies may be set in order to identify you and determine your access privileges. Cookies are simply identifiers. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your hard disk drive.